Keynote abstracts

There’s one room for the common events (keynote lectures):

Monday, 6 July

11:00-11:45 - Welcome Opening Keynote by Elena Pierazzo [plenary, open]

Title: What is Digital Humanities? An historical and sociological perspective

Where do digital humanities come from? Who are the digital humanists and where to find them? Finally, what are Digital Humanities? These are the questions underlying this talk. At first, the presentation will trace a brief history of the evolution and the various incarnations of digital humanities, as well as presenting the most significant men and women in this history. Second, a recognition of the research and teaching environments of digital humanities today will be proposed.

Friday, 10 July

15:00-15:45 - Farewell Closing Keynote by Fabio Vitali [plenary, open]

Title: NPOV considered harmful (or: can we make Digital Cultural Heritage more interesting?)

Why are we digitizing multimedia content of our heritage? Why are we putting lots of time and money to generate digital versions of our cultural artefacts, recording every minute detail, the texture, the colours, the imperfections, the stains caused by time and handlers over the centuries of their existence? One possible explanation is that the preservation of the artefacts is not the only thing that we are interested in. Maybe the stories we like to tell and to be told on these artefacts are about their textures, their colors, their imperfections, their stains.
It is the stories, not the artefacts, that we seek. Digitized multimedia content and descriptive metadata are important as long as they allow and integrate derivative work where these stories can be told and found and read: scholarly treaties, divulgation works, textbooks at schools, touristic guides, travel magazines, art magazines, cultural magazines, etc., are the means through which people access and enjoy our heritage. Without them, we only have boring lists of numbers and names and images. Stories are more than our artefacts: they are points of view that enrich boring data with context and interpretation, transforming the boring lists of numbers and names and images into interesting narratives that teach and entertain.
Getting ready to allow, support, expect and even encourage subjectivity and contextualization in our derivative works, i.e., in our stories, requires that we also plan the data itself, and the descriptive metadata, to be subjective and contextualized and, more important, multiple. Technologies exist and are plentiful. Yet, few (if any) datasets of descriptive metadata of our heritage artefacts are designed and structured to accommodate multiple independent, maybe even contrasting, points of view over the same objects. We need to learn to embrace complexity and enjoy the scholarly disagreements and conflicts: they represent our understanding of our past much better than monolithic and synthetic points on view and make up for much better and memorable stories, which is what counts.

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